Two rare islands of legitimate cinematic pleasure in this era of the woke Gestapo were the John Wick frankness and the equally formidable Nobody (2021) – which will hopefully become a franchise.
Both feature decidedly masculine protagonists who take us into a world that is both secretive and cool. The action is spectacular. Themes are universal. The goal is only to impress, entertain and satisfy.
The people who brought us John Wick and Nobody just delivered day shift to Netflix, another crowd pleaser.
Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx perfectly portrays Bud Jablonski, a pool cleaner trying to make a living in the sunny San Fernando Valley. He’s broke. He is separated from his wife. He desperately wants to be a good father to his young daughter. Unfortunately, things keep getting in the way, mainly his vampire hunt.
You see, Bud is a secret vampire hunter/bounty hunter. The undead litter the valley and their fangs are worth money. The older the vampire, the more those fangs are worth.
Conspiracies occur, and Bud suddenly needs a lot of money… Until monday. His only hope is to join the Vampire Killing Union who fired him years ago for various policy violations. Thanks to his old friend and legendary vampire hunter Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg brimming with charisma in a supporting role), Bud has one last chance. What he doesn’t know is that the boss of the syndicate (Eric Lange) deliberately put him in check. Bud’s new partner, Seth (Dave Franco), has no experience in vampire hunting. Instead, he’s a cowardly but ambitious bureaucrat sent to spy on and expose Bud.
day shift never rises to the level of Nobody Where John Wick, two films that made you believe in their worlds and the situation of their protagonists. Bud’s dilemma, his need for money to “save his family”, is never believable or logical. The central relationship of the story – it’s a comedy between Bud and Seth – never gels. The actors don’t have that magical chemistry needed to bring the concept together. There is also something hollow, hasty and unfinished in the construction of the world.
However, day shift is all kinds of fun. Foxx has fun playing a character full of wisecracks, swagger, and vampire-slaying skill. The action scenes, especially after Foxx and his fellow hunters stumble upon a beehive, are spectacular. In its own predictable way, the plot moves forward right away. The fact that the story makes little sense and there is no tension or sense of peril doesn’t matter. It’s more of a candy-colored cartoon than anything.
It’s also fun to watch Bud make fun of Seth, the Millennial Snowflake of all Millennial Snowflakes. Seth eats bran, wears lime green, doesn’t like guns, loves rules and regulations, and Bud – a guy who believes in getting the job done while driving a van – has none nothing.
It is no coincidence that John Wick, Nobodyand now day shift from a group of stuntmen turned filmmakers. Stuntmen are probably the last remaining group of regular guys in the entertainment business. As John Wick director and day shift producer Chad Stahelski, day shift director JJ Perry is a lifelong stuntman and The Great Hal Needham, an iconic stuntman turned filmmaker (Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, Cannonball Run) – seems to be their spirit guide.
Thankfully, just like Needham, this new breed of stuntman-turned-filmmaker is primarily interested in entertaining us, nothing more, nothing less. In this age of smug, fascist “entertainment,” their respect for us, the public, should be embraced, appreciated, and most importantly, encouraged.